But I have so many stories to tell!
For the first time in 80 weeks, Sunday Scribblings has taken a weekend off. Living in Asia for more than 14 years now, I have many stories to tell, from the heights of the majestic Himalaya mountains, to the cold but beautiful and lush Tibetan plateau -- the rooftop of the world, to the hot and humid plains of the Ganges, to adventures on the romantic and dangerous Silk Road. I have treated patients who live in caves, dirt houses, and monasteries; from small villages to large industrial cities, from peaceful far-off-the-beaten track locations, to civil war-torn and in some of the most dangerous places on earth. I have stories I want to tell. Some come to mind without any prompting at all, while others require a nudge, a smell, a word, a picture, and then the stories come flooding out. Sunday Scribblings has been great to give me those little prompts to bring the stories out, dust off the cobwebs and share with others, those stories which have been buried away, stories which need to be told. Thank you Megg and Laini for your prompts, and I hope you both enjoy your weekend away.
Just in writing this, I am reminded of a patient I saw in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. We were conducting medical clinics there, and one day, a man came to me at the hospital and said that I needed to come and see his father who had had a stroke. I told him that I couldn’t leave the hospital as I had many patients waiting for me. A local woman who was helping to keep my section organized said that I needed to go. Her gaze towards me was very intense, as she was trying to tell me more through her eyes than through her words. So I told the man that he could come back at 5:00 pm and I would go with him then. After he left, the local woman told me that I was very brave to say ‘no’ to this man, as he was mafia, and everyone in the city was afraid of him. I told her that I wasn’t brave, and that I didn’t say ‘no’, I only gave him another option, which he took. So at 5 pm, with my team mates sending me “be safe” and “be careful” messages with their eyes, I was ushered into the back of a black car with black windows and we sped down the main street of Dushanbe at 100 mph! OK, now I am afraid. We went down the main street then round and round through back streets and finally stopped at a bombed out building that was barely standing, with no electricity or running water. We climbed up stairs, often open to the elements, to the 8th floor, and there, amid candles, were his parents. And yes, the father had had a stroke, at least 6 months before. So for the next hour, I worked with him and taught the mother and Mafia Man what to do: how to care for him, which exercises to do, how to get him around safely, and how to utilize his strong parts to make up for the weaker ones. At least working with this man, doing my job, helped to alleviate the anxiety I felt when I saw Mafia Man’s guns. And then, just as quickly as I had come, we sped back across town, and I was left at the door of our hotel, with a hand-knit shawl and a very big smile from Mafia Man.
While my friends and I were all relieved that I returned safely, I had a contentment and peace about Tajikistan. Amid all the violence and poverty that come from civil strife, I saw the loyalty and love that a man, caught up in war, has for his parents.